International symposium on infectious diseases features York expertise

Visualization of the COVID-19 virus. Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

The Canadian Centre for Disease Modelling (CCDM) based at York University was one of the co-organizers of a virtual symposium on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases that took place Sept. 14 to 18. The event drew an international cohort of more than 300 researchers, public health experts and students.

The CCDM 2021 China-Canada Symposium on Modelling, Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases was hosted by Northeast Normal University and co-organized by the Center for Mathematical Bioscience and the Chinese Society of Mathematical Biology.

The goal of the event was to understand worldwide challenges and cutting-edge developments related to mathematical modelling of infectious diseases, and to share the timely research findings and experiences. It also provided an excellent experiential education opportunity for young researchers and students from China and Canada to interact with leading modellers and get hands-on research experience.

Huaiping Zhu
Huaiping Zhu

“Mathematical models have played an important role in understanding disease transmission and informing policy-making for public health,” said Faculty of Science Professor Huaiping Zhu, who directs CCDM and served as the scientific co-chair for the symposium. “The symposium this year looked at how non-pharmaceutical interventions, vaccination strategies, and social and environmental determinants affect transmission, and how data-driven mathematical modelling contributes to the prevention, mitigation and control of COVID-19. It was another successful international collaboration of CDM during the pandemic.”

A big focus of the symposium was on modelling COVID-19 infection and immunity, transmission, vaccination and other public health strategies; however, mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus and dengue fever, and other infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, were also discussed. Distinguished lectures on the first two days of the symposium were organized for young researchers and graduate students and focused on reflections and lessons related to COVID-19. The other invited talks were presentations of recent research findings.

The York University faculty involved in the symposium were: CCDM Communications Director and Professor Jane Heffernan of the Faculty of Science; and CCDM members and professors Marina Freire-Gormaly from the Lassonde School of Engineering, and Jude Dzevela Kong, Iain Moyles and Carly Rozins, all from the Faculty of Science, with each presenting talks at the event. Additionally, York postdoctoral Fellow Juan Li, also from CCDM, participated in a panel discussion. York postdoctoral Fellows and CCDM members Elena Aruffo and PhD student Pei Yuan served on the supporting committee. Twelve other CCDM Canadian network members also presented at the meeting.